ODJ: Words and Life

August 28, 2016 

READ: Proverbs 25:11-18  

Soft speech can break bones (v.15).

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” That saying has been used to cushion the blow of unpleasant words for more than 100 years. We know, however, that harsh words can pierce our hearts and shatter our spirits. Bruises and broken bones can heal with time, but a broken heart and crushed spirit caused by harsh statements aren’t easily mended. Some wounds can even prove to be fatal.

Solomon was intentionally graphic in describing the hurt and harm we inflict on others when words are misused. “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an axe, wounding them with a sword or shooting them with a sharp arrow” (Proverbs 25:18). Elsewhere he warned, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords” (12:18 niv). Note the similar letters in words and swords. Swords maim and kill. So can words.

But words, like swords, are also doubled-edged. The tongue has the power of life and death (18:21). It holds great potential for good! In fact, “lovely” words are “like golden apples in a silver basket” (25:11). And, paradoxically, when carefully used, “Soft speech can break bones” (v.15). With truthful, thoughtful and tactful communication, we can heal relationships and break the ‘bone of contention’—the barriers that divide us. It’s true, “A gentle answer deflects anger. ...It is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!” (15:1,23).

Our words are powerful. They can hurt and harm or help and heal. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (16:24 esv). Proverbs 12:18 sums it up well: “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.”

May we speak words of life as God prompts and helps us today!

—K. T. Sim

365-day plan: John 12:1-11

What do Prov. 15:1-4, 7,23,26,28 and Ephesians 4:29 say about the use of right and wrong words? 
Is your tongue quick to criticise but slow to apologise? How can you use words that will better honour God and bless others?